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The responsibilities of truthfulness : an inquiry into the ethics of speaking

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Item Summary

Title: The responsibilities of truthfulness : an inquiry into the ethics of speaking
Authors: Henkel, Jeremy Eugene
Keywords: lying
Issue Date: May 2011
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2011]
Abstract: Analyses of the morality of lying almost universally begin by attempting to define lying and subsequently assessing its ethical status on the basis of the definition provided. This approach is problematic because lying is an inherently ethical concept. As a result, people who attempt to define lying in a value-neutral manner inevitably smuggle in their own ethical intuitions about the concept. As a result, the success of the definitions and analyses provided is wholly dependent on one's acceptance of the informing intuitions. I take a different approach, following the strategy suggested by natural language philosophy. I first examine the role the concept lying plays in everyday discourse, and then use this analysis to show that lying is best understood as always morally objectionable. This realization provides a starting point for discussing what makes lying blameworthy, and ultimately for deriving a definition of what it is to lie on the basis of that analysis. I argue that lying is wrong because it constitutes a betrayal of trust. The wrongness of lying, and indeed lying itself, is thus more contextually determined than has been generally recognized.
Building on my analysis of lying, I develop an understanding of truthfulness as the central virtue of speaking. Making use of classical Indian philosophy--including insights from the Mahābhārata, the Upaniṣads, and the Buddhist Nikāyas--I argue that we need to de-couple the notion of truthfulness from that of truth-telling. It is a mistake, I argue, to identify the value-neutral act of truth-telling with the virtue of truthfulness. I then defend my account of truthfulness against the twin objections that it is self-undermining and that it fosters an unacceptable form of paternalism. I conclude by articulating three Responsibilities of Truthfulness that, when fulfilled, help to ensure that one remains trustworthy in what one says.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2011.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Philosophy

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